I’m at the beach during these last few days of the paid part of my “sabbatical”, and I’m considering some of the things I have learned during these four months of down time. Some I got from friends or read in a book, others were whispered in my ear by “The Spooks”, but all have been shaped and customized by and for my personal experience. So these insights may mean nothing to anyone else, but I figured it it’s nice to share.
Four Steps to Achieving Your Goals
1. Remember who you are. I suppose this means different things to each of us. For me it has meant re-connecting with my spiritual center. I’ve done this through walking, meditating, reading, rocking and writing, among other things. Remembering who I am has also involved looking at old pictures and videos of myself at times when I felt most authentic, most like myself. Those weren’t always the times I was happiest, but often they were. They were also the times when I was least conscious of myself (at least, that’s how I remember it), and I was living life fully (at least, that’s how it seems now). I’m not talking about just taking a trip down memory lane. Part of my rediscovery of self has meant trying to feel what I felt like then. To attempt to recapture the actual emotions of those moments, and then move them into real time. Hard to explain. Harder to do.
2. Live in the present. Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re thinking: That old chestnut? But, again, harder to do than it sounds. Even during a time when the present is pretty darn good. But it has meant catching my mind, and especially my emotions, when they veer off into a memory (which mostly seem to involve disappointment, regret or embarrassment, for some reason), or when they spiral into the vortex of fearful projections of the future (OMG, what if…???). My strategy: Take four deep breaths; remember that emotions (even negative ones) are like air and will pass in a moment; do a quick inventory of now (At this moment, am I safe? Am I reasonably comfortable? Do I have what I need for the next 5 minutes?). Be here now. That’s where it all happens.
3. Articulate your goals. Say what it is you want. Say it out loud, write or type it, tell someone. (Thinking it doesn’t count.) Even if you don’t know exactly what you want, you can always come up with a tiny piece of it. To feel better than I do right now. To laugh more. To feel safe most of the time. There are lots of opinions out there about whether you should state your goals as something to be achieved in the future or as a thing already accomplished. Some people say your goals should be as specific as you can get, others say to keep them general so you don’t limit what the Universe wants to give you. I’ve even heard that you shouldn’t put any negation words into your goals (e.g., I don’t feel lonely), as the negative words will be picked up and cancel out the affirmation. I’m not sure what “the rules” are, so just say whatever feels right to you, but say something! (In case you’re interested, here’s what I’m articulating at the moment: I am happy, peaceful and content in all areas of my life, and I make a good living doing things I enjoy.)
4. Make good faith effort. You know that thing in the Bible about how you only need faith as small as a mustard seed? I think the same is true for effort when it comes to getting what you want. Sometimes when we articulate a goal (see #3 above), it can seem overwhelming. Where do you start? I think the answer is to start small. Just make some tiny effort every day toward the goal, just to show the Universe you’re trying and that you’re receptive. And if you can’t think of one thing to do toward your goal, try this: Clean out one drawer in your house while keeping your goal in mind. There. You just made a good faith effort. (And got a clean drawer!)